Category Archives: the bitter truth

April 18, 2013, 10:43 am

Can the GOP Walk the Walk With Black Voters?

Senate Leaders Speak To Press After Weekly Policy Luncheon

Our guest blogger today is Leah M. Wright-Rigueur, assistant professor of History and African American Studies at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.  She is currently finishing a book, The Loneliness of the Black Conservative: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power, which documents Black conservatives’ attempts to work within a Republican Party structure that increasingly invested in its relationship with white voters after World War II.

Last week, Senator Rand Paul visited Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C.  Pundits and journalists across the media spectrum lampooned and critiqued Paul’s visit as a silly effort given the history of African Americans and the Republican Party.

Most people assume that the relationship between black voters and the Republican Party is a hostile one. To some extent, that’s correct – black voters…

Read More

April 6, 2013, 1:00 pm

On Political Correctness, the Media, and “Sporting” Behavior

Bluffing

But not always.

Back in 1973, Tricky Dick Nixon and I were hanging out on the porch at San Clemente, drinking scotch and tinkering with the enemies list. He said, “Radical,” (that’s what he called me, because “TR” made him think of 26′s big scary teeth); “Radical, never cover anything up. Things only get worse when those politically correct fa**ots find out.” (Have I ever told you that Dick had a neat way of inserting asterisks in words, and lengthy silences in sentences, even while speaking? It was really quite the party stunt.)

Since I tweeted Joe Nocera’s opinion piece in today’s New York Times about the belated firing of Rutgers basketball coach I’ve been mulling over this fictional but highly formative moment in my life history. Like Woodward and Bernstein, Nocera suggests we follow the money to…

Read More

April 20, 2012, 12:19 am

Hey Babe, It’s OAH Day One: Public History Rock and Roll

Photo credit

I was sitting in the lobby of the Milwaukee Hilton and a civilian came up to me.  “Hey,” he said: “Have I seen you on the History Channel?”

“Uh, probably,” I said.  There are three different documentaries about crime in the 1930s that feature me as a talking head.  From time to time, someone makes the connection:  the working class family who lives across the street, a small child on the subway, and my all-time favorite, the men at the men’s shelter on Third Street in lower Manhattan. Because of this, I think the History Channel is one of the most popular enterprises ever created: not only do people love history, but I suspect that institutions – prisons, shelters, halfway houses – leave it on all the time because it is completely non-controversial.

“But you know …

Read More

February 29, 2012, 1:24 pm

Radical But Not Tenured: Reflections from an Unemployed ABD

By “Sam Concord”

Today’s guest blogger is a pseudonymous graduate student from a major research university and a future tenured radical. Super-qualified, unemployed, and nearly finished with his degree,  Sam reflects on his six years in graduate school and how he has practiced the art of failure.

I am crawling to the finish line of graduate school with six publications, one mostly-finished dissertation, two major teaching awards, and no job. As I wait to go on the market again next year, I’m doing my best to embrace what Jack Halberstam calls the new ways of being opened up by failure. These benefits include the time and space to figure out what I’ve been doing for the past six years.

In this spirit, I offer you four versions of this story: Superhero Sam, Naked Sam, Terrorist Sam, and CV Sam.

Superhero Sam. One highlight of graduate school was not dying when a driver …

Read More

September 5, 2010, 2:16 pm

Cultural Studies; Or, The Perils Of Mislabeling Campus Problems

One of the things I have noticed, probably because I live with an anthropologist, is that academics tend to use the word “culture” to describe a variety of things that, actually, are not cultural at all. It is true that “culture” has a great many meanings, depending on the context in which it is being used, the historical period or thing that is being described, and the intellectual tradition (if any) that is being referenced: here are a few. For social scientists, most centrally anthropologists, “culture” is far more likely to invoke a set of usefully contentious questions and methodological choices than an answer to any given problem.

In a college or university setting, however, when someone starts talking about “culture” it is too frequently the end of the discussion, an explanation for why things must be as they are and/or a way of distancing from something nettlesome. You will…

Read More

August 15, 2010, 3:01 pm

Never Mix, Never Worry: A Brief (And Incomplete) History Of The Academic Couple

Push your way past the Katie Roiphe essay on page 2 of the New York Times “Sunday Styles” section today (yes, this conservative anti-feminist really does seem to own the column named “Cultural Studies,” which is an irony, is it not, given what cultural studies represents on the academic left? Does Roiphe know this? One suspects not.) Make your way to “Modern Love,” where Boston College Shakespeare scholar Caroline Bicks, who also blogs at Academic Shakespeare, writes about academic commuting. In “Is The Husband Going To Be A Problem?” she addresses going on the job market as a couple, commonly known in academia as “the two body problem.” She also mentions what I think is probably a widespread experience: Bicks’ husband was never asked about what would happen to her on his interviews; but whether he would be a “hiring issue” was an anxious subtext of her interviews, a question that was …

Read More

May 2, 2010, 12:08 pm

Like Sands Through The Hourglass, So Are The Days Of Our Lives: Having The Courage Not To Go To Graduate School

You would think that May would signal the winding down of things at Zenith. In fact, as we all know, the liberal arts college has a tendency to crank things up toward the end of the year. Didn’t spend enough of your budget? There will be a memo asking for suggestions on how to do that. Last year, when I was chair and everyone was in ex post crash-o mentality, we saved a lot of time via a memo telling us that departments and programs were prohibited from spending down at the end of the year, although how they would be able to sift legitimate from illegitimate expenses was not clear. (“Six skateboards? Why did sociology purchase skateboards?”) Prizes and various awards must be given, and we will be solicited for the names of ever-more students to receive them. Committees that have been ruminating on this or that will be rushing legislation to the floor of the last faculty meeting….

Read More